With Attack on Rahul Gandhi, Former Minister Jayanthi Natarajan Quits Congress

With Attack on Rahul Gandhi, Former Minister Jayanthi Natarajan Quits Congress

In her letter, Ms Natarajan has alleged interference by Rahul Gandhi in environmental clearances. (Agence France-Presse)

New Delhi:

Jayanthi Natarajan, former Environment Minister, has quit the Congress with a scathing attack on vice-president Rahul Gandhi, alleging that "specific requests" by him were the basis of whether industrial projects were given clearances by her ministry, and that he shifted from a pro-environmental position to corporate-friendly stand for the elections last year.

Her resignation letter, accessed by The Hindu, was sent in November to Mr Gandhi's mother, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, but failed to elicit any response, said sources close to Ms Natarajan.

Ms Natarajan, who was blamed by many including some of her cabinet colleagues for preventing development by refusing to grant green clearances for major projects , resigned as minister in the Congress-led government months  before the general election which was swept by the BJP.  At a press conference at 12.30 today, she  says will offer proof of Mr Gandhi's interference in her ministry's decision-making. Sources close to her say she does not plan to join another party.  

In her letter to Mrs Gandhi, Ms Natarajan says, "I received specific requests [which used to be directives for us] from Shri Rahul Gandhi and his office forwarding environmental concerns in some important areas and I took care to honour those 'requests' ."

She has linked her being asked to resign in December 2013 with an address Mr Gandhi made to industry leaders the very next day, where he assured "the corporate world that they need no longer worry about environmental clearance delays and that bottlenecks would be removed."

Ms Natarajan has also claimed in her letter that she was forced by the Congress to attack the BJP's Narendra Modi, now Prime Minister, in what was called the Snoopgate controversy, despite her reluctance to bring up matters that were personal.  The opposition alleged that as Gujarat Chief Minister, Mr Modi, through his then Home Minister Amit Shah, had ordered the illegal surveillance of a young woman architect during her visits to Gujarat.